The Tigers have been waiting for one of their 2003 Rule 5 choices to put it all together and contribute at the Major League level. Chris Shelton has already achieved that goal, but the club had still been waiting for the same from lefty Wil Ledezma. Well, it appears to be happening at Toledo. Ledezma is only sporting a 2-2 record, but has been exceptional on the hill; posting a 2.43 ERA in 29.2 innings. As impressive as those numbers look, Ledezma's walk and strikeout numbers are even more mind boggling. Thus far, Wil has only walked 6 batters, while striking out 38. Continued success of this magnitude, and the Tigers are going to be hard pressed to keep him at Toledo for long.
Erie's offense has been abysmal in the early going, but that hasn't stopped Humberto Sanchez from finally realizing some of his potential. After battling conditioning and injury problems the last few years, along with bouts of wildness, Sanchez has been positively phenomenal this season. Humberto logged 30 innings with only 10 walks and 41 strikeouts, ending up with a 2-1 record and a 1.50 ERA. The Tigers and their fans have been waiting for Sanchez to put things together for quite some time, and it appears things may actually be moving in that direction.
As outstanding as Kevin Whelan has been this month, he still couldn't take home the top pitching honors for Lakeland. Righty Jair Jurrjens has continued the dominance he showed at West Michigan in 2005. With another start on the month's final day, Jurrjens dropped his ERA to a ridiculous 1.74 in 31 innings. In those 31 innings, Jair has only walked 2 batters (Seriously!), and has struck out 25, allowing only 21 hits. At only 20 years old, Jurrjens is substantially younger than much of his competition, making his April accomplishments even more impressive.
The West Michigan pitching staff did their best to make this decision extremely difficult, with six of the team's regular pitchers posting ERAs below 2.00. Despite the difficult decision, the award goes to starter Ramon Garcia. Garcia led the team in innings, while holding the opponent in check with a 1.45 ERA and 0.68 WHIP. Ramon notched 26 strikeouts against only 3 walks, and even tossed in a complete game shutout for good measure.
There were plenty of pitchers that deserved serious consideration for this month's awards, and we can only hope that trend continues towards the summer. The Tigers have made a concerted effort to stock up on young pitching since Dombrowski took over the reigns, and it appears the organization is starting to see the fruits of that effort. Keep an eye on the pitching staffs throughout the system over the coming months; you might see some pretty impressive performances.